Leaking Cyberwar Secrets - Lee Smith (Tablet)
The New York Times published an explosive story detailing the collaboration between Israel and the U.S. in its cyberwarfare campaign against Iran's nuclear weapons program.
The nature of the story is given away in a quote from Vice President Joe Biden, exasperated after Stuxnet mistakenly appeared on the Web in the summer of 2010, exposing the code. "It's got to be the Israelis," said Biden.
If the Israelis are in fact incompetent at waging cyberwar, then that's real news, since the Israelis have always been reputed to be the best in the business.
"If Israel is incompetent, then why was Stuxnet successful?" said journalist Yossi Melman. "A thousand centrifuges were disabled, which makes it a very successful campaign."
Melman said that according to the Israeli officials he's spoken with, it was Israel that initiated the idea of utilizing computer viruses. "They've been doing cyberwarfare slightly longer than the Americans...exploring the potential for offensive as well as defensive cyberwarfare capabilities for at least a decade."
Assad's Ghost Militia Strikes Fear into Syria Revolt - Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters)
From humble beginnings as a smuggling and blackmail racket set up by Assad's relatives in Latakia, the shabiha have grown into feared militia death squads blamed for the worst atrocities in the Syrian revolt.
They swiftly developed with state support into a full-fledged militia after the uprising. Directed by the security forces or ruling Baath Party officials, they put down demonstrations in cities across the country, often by killing demonstrators with live bullets.
At the beginning of the revolt, security forces recruited thousands of Sunni Muslims, especially after Assad released thousands from jail in a general amnesty last year.
In Damascus, residents and activists said the proportion of Sunnis in the shabiha had dwindled after 11 shabiha were assassinated in the Sunni Damascus district of Maidan during the past two months.
In the Sunni Muslim city of Hama, just 20 km. east of Qubair where activists reported a massacre on Wednesday, a potent force of about 3,000 shabiha remain in position.
"The shabiha in Hama city are from the Alawite villages around. There is one Sunni village, Qahtaneh, that is all shabiha, because they follow a general in the security apparatus who runs a smuggling racket with the blessing of the regime," said activist Raed Farhoud.
Iran on Verge of Economic Disaster? - Guy Bechor (Ynet News)
On July 1, the EU's full oil embargo on Iran will go into effect, and Tehran shall lose one quarter of its oil sales revenues.
In early July, the large insurance companies will stop insuring Iranian tankers and any vessel carrying Iranian oil.
Saudi Arabia has boosted its oil output to a 30-year high, thereby causing a deliberate decline in oil prices.
China's and the West's oil consumption is declining in any case as result of the economic recession, and the growing Saudi output produced a situation whereby supply is higher than demand, prices are dropping, and Iran's customers are switching to Saudi Arabia.
The Kurds in northern Iraq have also boosted their oil production.
See also Disabling Iran's Oil Weapon - Frida Ghitis
(World Politics Review)
Jewish Heart for Africa Finishes 58th Solar Project - Sharon Udasin (Jerusalem Post)
By installing a small set of solar panels in some of the most remote of African villages, Sivan Borowich-Ya'ari and her organization Jewish Heart for Africa are able to bring electricity to schools, orphanages and medical clinics that have never seen artificial light before.
Jewish Heart for Africa has helped 250,000 people throughout the continent. Based in New York City, the organization's goal is to save African lives using Israeli sustainable technology.
Founded in 2008 by French-Israeli Borowich-Ya'ari, 33, the group had completed 58 solar projects in villages throughout Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi.
Arafat Moneyman Gets 15 Years for Corruption (AP-Washington Post)
A Palestinian anti-corruption court in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday sentenced Mohammed Rashid, the shadowy moneyman of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, to 15 years in prison after convicting him in absentia of siphoning off millions of dollars in public funds.
He was also fined $15 million and his properties were ordered confiscated.
Why Do Israelis Live So Long? - Meirav Arlosoroff (Ha'aretz)
At 81.5, Israel has the sixth highest life expectancy in the world. Moreover, Israeli men can expect to live 79.6 years, on average, the third highest in the world, bested only by men in Switzerland (79.9) and Iceland (79.7).
Is it the local Mediterranean diet?
Other Mediterranean countries have similar dietary habits. Greece, for example, lags far behind Israel in life expectancy.
Is it the advanced egalitarian health system? Scandinavian countries have no less of an advanced and progressive health system, yet Israelis tend to live longer.
Some experts point to low alcohol consumption and considerably less criminal violence among Israeli men, or the fact that genetically mixed populations are usually sturdier - Israel is benefiting from the genetic fusion of its diverse migrant communities.
Other sociological theories point to strong and healthy communal and family ties as contributors to longevity, as well as a culture featured by a zest for life.
Professor Yehuda Kahane notes that the difficulties of life in Israel may contribute to a toughness and enhanced survival.
It has been documented that there was a rise in life expectancy in London during World War II. While thousands of young British men died on the battlefront, the elderly left behind stopped dying. The war brought about social cohesion and gave purpose to life, which prolonged the lives of the elderly folks at home.
The ongoing conflict and ideological struggles give life more content and meaning than in other developed countries, and this may well contribute to the high life expectancy.
Muslim Zionist's Quest to Battle Anti-Israel Bias - Shahar Chai (Ynet News)
As a child, Kasim Hafeez often heard his father praising Adolf Hitler, lamenting only the Nazi tyrant's failure to kill even more Jews during World War II.
A son to a British family of Pakistani origin, he grew up in a fundamentalist Muslim community that called for the destruction of all Jews and taught him to believe that Israel is a terror state.
But after years of taking part in anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activity, Hafeez's beliefs took an unexpected 180-degree turn.
He now calls himself "a proud Muslim Zionist" and arrived in Israel for a visit as part of his effort to battle misinformation about the Jewish state.
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- UN Observers Blocked from Reaching Site of Syria Massacre - Colum Lynch and Liz Sly
On Thursday Syrian forces blocked UN monitors from investigating a fresh massacre site in Qubair near Hama. Qubair resident Laith Hamawi said his mother and brothers were among the victims. He said he was about half a mile away in his olive groves when he saw security forces and shabiha members converge on the village of about 150 residents from three directions.
"I was scared to move, so I hid," he said.
For several hours, he said, he heard shooting and tank fire and saw houses burning. After the troops left, he returned home and found the bodies of his mother and four brothers, he said. "We moved through the houses and saw the dead bodies of women, children and the elderly," Hamawi said.
See also Heavy Weapons, Drones, Gunfire Used Against UN Monitors in Syria, Ban Says
Heavy weapons, armor-piercing bullets and surveillance drones have been used against UN observers in Syria to hamper their efforts to monitor the worsening conflict, UN leader Ban Ki-moon told a Security Council meeting Thursday.
According to UN officials, UN vehicles are shot at almost every day in Syria.
Ban said UN observers had seen Syrian military convoys approaching villages and tried to stop tank assaults against populated areas but had been "ignored." (AFP)
See also Syria Peace Plan Not Working, UN Envoy Kofi Annan Says - Patrick J. McDonnell (Los Angeles Times)
See also Video: Homs under Artillery Attack (Al-Arabiya)
- Mubarak's Medical Condition Worsens
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's condition has deteriorated so much that doctors at the Cairo prison where he is serving a life sentence had to constantly administer oxygen to him overnight, security officials said Thursday.
Officials at Cairo's Torah prison said Mubarak, 84, is suffering breathing problems, high blood pressure and depression. He did not speak to his doctors or anyone else except for a few words to his son Gamal, who is being held in the same prison and was at his father's side.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Clinton Highlights Gaps between U.S. and Israel on Iran - Herb Keinon
Differences between Israel and the U.S. over the world powers' negotiating strategy with Iran came into the open Thursday when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked of the need for Iran to come to nuclear talks ready to curb its enrichment of uranium to 20% purity. In recent days Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that he does not believe curbing enrichment to 20% is sufficient, and that in previous talks with the Iranians the world demanded that it stop all its enrichment, even to 3.5%.
One government official said that the international community was well aware that Israel did not think what was currently being asked of the Iranians was enough.
- World's Largest, Most Advanced Underground Hospital Opens in Haifa - David Shamah
The world's largest and most advanced "fortified hospital" was unveiled this week at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. The 2,000-bed underground hospital is designed to keep patients and staff safe dozens of meters below ground even if rockets are falling - as they did during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. It is also designed to keep out chemical or biological weapons.
In normal times, the three-level underground structure will be used as a parking facility for up to 1,400 vehicles. But built into the walls and floors are power outlets, connections, air conditioners and heaters, water and filtration systems, and everything else needed to move hospital operations underground. The conversion of the facility to a hospital will take less than 48 hours, hospital officials said.
(Times of Israel)
- Assad's Sectarian Strategy - Tony Badran
Few fully appreciate the cold-blooded calculus of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad that gives rise to recent sectarian murders in Sunni villages such as Qubair and Houla.
Both are adjacent to Alawite villages, from which the attacks were launched.
Those who have lived through or studied Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war will immediately recognize what's going on. The early stages of the war witnessed mass killings as the rival camps began fortifying their sectarian cantons, clearing out enemy outposts and securing strategic routes and points of access - a sign that they were in it for the long haul.
As noted by Michael Young, the Assad regime has been pursuing something "suspiciously similar" to ethnic cleansing along the northern and southern tips of the Alawite ancestral stronghold (and within it). It's clear that Assad is pursuing a policy of Alawite inner consolidation.
By arming Alawite villages and using them as launching pads for attacks against Sunnis, as he did in Houla and Qubair, Assad is hardening the sectarian boundaries and implicating the entire Alawite community in the murder of Sunnis, seeking to irredeemably tie the fate of the Alawites to his own.
The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- The Syrian Uprising:
Syrian Discourse on the Social Networks, June 2012 - Udi Dekel and Orit Perlov
Since the start of the uprising in Syria, more than 15,000 Syrian citizens have been
murdered, and the bloodshed has no end in sight. Some 10% of the Syrian population use Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and YouTube. They are for the most part secular, liberal, and from
Sunni Muslim backgrounds, along with Kurds, senior members of the military and political opposition, and quite a few Syrian exiles (including Alawites). Some of the key political issues currently debated on Syrian social
networks include the lack of agreement regarding what Syria should look like
following the fall of the Assad regime.
stresses that this is not an ethnic conflict, and there are no calls for vengeance against the
Alawite community. Rather, the focus is on toppling the Assad family regime. Alawite sources on the web claim that the Alawite community is not in
lockstep with President Assad and that the Alawite majority is intentionally silent.
Social network users are concerned that the longer the struggle lasts, the more fertile the ground grows for the penetration of jihadists and other
extremists. Concerns focused in particular on
radical Sunni jihadists and al-Qaeda, who enter from Jordan and from Iraq, as well as Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force units, backed by Hizbullah operatives.
In addition to weapons and financing, Iran has also dispatched many Quds Force
officers to Syria. These men, who helped suppress the 2009 Iranian
demonstrations, are now training their Syrian counterparts to do the same.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
- Explaining Putin's Support for Assad - Alexander Golts
Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, the West has been trying to find a rational reason for why Moscow has supported Assad, whose days in power are undoubtedly numbered. Why is the Kremlin risking its international reputation to support a bloody dictator?
The answer, it would seem, lies in the field of psychology. Putin identifies with Assad, Gaddafi and Mubarak. He is firmly convinced that democracy, the rule of law and human rights are all little more than contrivances that allow the West to control weaker nations.
This also explains why Putin believes that the street protests in Moscow are a creation of hostile Western intelligence agencies and that the protests in Syria, Libya and Egypt were engineered by subversive forces funded by the West.
The writer is deputy editor of the online newspaper Yezhednevny Zhurnal.
- Why a Syrian Civil War Would Be a Disaster for U.S. National Security - Robert Satloff
Even with all-out effort, Syria is going to be a mess for years to come; a peaceful, inclusive, representative Syria anytime soon is a fantasy. In a post-Assad world, inter-ethnic reconciliation will be an uphill battle and the inclusion of some Islamists in a successor government is - regrettably, in my view - a necessary fact of Syrian life. Still, policymaking is often accepting bad outcomes when the alternatives are worse, especially when the worse outcomes have the potential to wreak havoc on American interests.
Beyond the humanitarian disaster that Syria has become, the strategic damage that could result from the nightmare scenarios that could transpire in Syria should concentrate the minds of U.S. strategists. If it takes American-led intervention to prevent them, then that is where discussion of U.S. policy should begin.
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
- U.S. Elections Seen Delaying Action on Syria
Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Itamar Rabinovich, who was also Israel's chief negotiator with Syria in 1992-95, told Army Radio
on Thursday that "it's not Russia that's preventing intervention. Russia is the pretext, the alibi" for the lack of substantive international action. "If someone wanted to ratchet up the pressure on Syria, they could."
The real block, he said, is the U.S. government. "The Obama administration is not looking for another major Middle East crisis before November."
Rabinovich, a former president of Tel Aviv University and a visiting professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, expressed his dismay at the world's response to the bloodshed in Syria and said that President Bashar Assad was "living on borrowed time." (Times of Israel)
See also Poll: Voter Support for U.S. Involvement in Syria Remains Low
In a survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted on June 5-6, 2012, 20% believe the U.S. should get more involved in the Syrian crisis, while 50% say America should leave the situation there alone.
- How to Stop the Syria Massacre - Elie Wiesel
Why not warn Assad that, unless he stops the murderous policy he is engaged in, he will be arrested and brought to the international criminal court in The Hague and charged with committing crimes against humanity?
Such a charge would have discouraging aspects. He would lose any support, any sympathy, in the world at large. No honorable person would come to his defense. No nation would offer him shelter. No statute of limitations would apply to his case.
- Brother Number One - Shadi Hamid
If the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi comes out on top in the upcoming presidential runoff election, scheduled for June 16 and 17,
the Islamist movement will have won control of both Egypt's presidency and its parliament. Historically, the Brotherhood has been one of the more consistent purveyors of anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment.
Morsi is a graduate of the University of Southern California and the father of two U.S. citizens.
But does it really matter what Morsi thinks? The Brotherhood's presidential campaign was never about Morsi. It was about the Brotherhood, and Morsi just happened to be the substitute candidate - an unlikely accident of history - after the charismatic Khairat El Shater was disqualified from the race.
The writer is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
- Egyptian Status Quo Ends for Israelis, Palestinians - Crispian Balmer
Israel's regional strategy was underpinned by its peace deal with Egypt, enabling the country to scale back dramatically its military budget.
Mubarak's Egypt also supplied Israel with 40% of its gas needs. This deal has now gone up in smoke. Few expect that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi, if victorious, would trash the peace accord with Israel - too much foreign aid depends on it. By the same token, nobody in Jerusalem expects anything more than frigid relations from a man who is quoted as calling Israelis "vampires."
Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, believes that with the Brotherhood fully in control in Cairo, its position in its internal struggle for supremacy against the Western-backed Abbas would be greatly strengthened.
"To a great extent Islamists in Palestine see their future tied to the victory of Morsi, which would complete the circle and leave the Islamists in full control of the entire Egyptian political system," said Talal Okal, a Gaza-based Palestinian political analyst.
- The Stalled Arab Spring - Aaron David Miller
More than a year into the Arab Spring, one inconvenient and politically incorrect truth stands out: the Arabs are much better at acquiring and fighting over power than they are at sharing it. Unless the Arabs figure out a way to share power toward some common purpose, the prospects for anything resembling democratic and accountable polities will be slim to none.
Indeed, these weren't revolutions where new overturned old as much as they were transactions in which established powers and parties maneuvered for control.
In Egypt, the end of the Mubarak regime created new political space, but it was quickly occupied by the military, the Muslim Brotherhood and remnants of the old regime.
Real power-sharing requires a commitment by politicians and publics to a national vision designed to further the common good. Instead, the Arabs have organized themselves into corporatist entities - military, tribes, Islamists of varying persuasions, minorities, Shia - each determined to protect their own. The writer is a Distinguished Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center In Washington.
- Where Are the Moderate Arabs and Palestinians? - Khaled Abu Toameh
In Israel, there are dozens of organizations and parties that openly advocate peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world. The Israeli media is also full of articles - by Jewish writers - who are extremely critical of the Israeli establishment. Israeli policies are condemned in the Knesset more than they are denounced in the Palestinian or any Arab parliament.
When was the last time an Arab parliament or prominent politician or columnist called for peace and compromise with Israel? Can anyone in the Palestinian territories or the Arab world form a party that advocates peace, coexistence and harmony with Israel? Has anyone ever heard of a Palestinian or Arab "Peace Now" group?
Over the past two decades, Israeli Jews have been marching toward pragmatism and moderation. A majority now supports the two-state solution. By contrast, the Palestinians have been radicalized to a point where it is almost impossible to talk about peace and coexistence with Israel.
See also The Silence Abbas and the PA Want You to Hear - Lori Lowenthal Marcus
In May, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate began punishing Arab Palestinian journalists for meeting and cooperating with Israeli colleagues in a series of joint seminars that were held in Europe. The goal of those seminars was to promote freedom of expression and increase cooperation. The PJS is affiliated with the PA and is dominated by Fatah, the party of Abbas, and reports directly to the President's office in Ramallah.
Reporter Khaled Abu Toameh posted on his Facebook page: "A campaign of intimidation, harassment, pressure, threats and boycotts has made it impossible for an Arab journalist to work in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories." (Algemeiner)
- The Challenges of Warfare in Densely
Warfare in densely populated areas presents complex operational,
ethical, and legal challenges, as experienced by the IDF in recent years in
its campaigns against Hizbullah and Hamas. Armed conflicts elsewhere
in the world are encountering similar dilemmas. There is a need to grapple with the challenges of warfare in
order to find the correct balance between the needs of the fighting forces
and the need to protect the uninvolved civilian population.
This issue of Military and Strategic Affairs includes: "The Challenges of Warfare Facing the IDF in
Densely Populated Areas" by Gabi Siboni;
"The Challenges of Fighting in Densely Populated Areas:
The Israeli Case" by Arnon Soffer;
"Asymmetrical Warfare in the Gaza Strip: A Test Case" by
"Principles of Warfare in the Densely Populated Areas of
Arab Non-State Entities" by
"How Challenges of Warfare Influence the Laws of Warfare" by
"Legal Dilemmas in Fighting Asymmetrical Conflicts" by
Pnina Sharvit Baruch; and "Lawfare: The Legal Front of the IDF" by Avihai Mandelblit.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
45 Years Since the Six-Day War
- What Six Days Achieved - Jonathan S. Tobin
So long as the goal of Israel's foes is its destruction and not merely withdrawal from the West Bank or parts of Jerusalem, the only way to look at the Six-Day War or the current impasse is through the prism of survival. That was just as true 45 years ago when Israel's government was instructed by the world - including the U.S. - to sit back and wait to be attacked, as it is today. What was at stake in those six days was simple survival as Arab armies massed to attempt to reverse the verdict of the 1948-49 War of Independence.
The overwhelming majority of Israelis have no wish to rule over millions of Palestinians. But the roadblock to peace that would create a two-state solution has never been the settlements. It has been the Palestinians' rejection of peace offers that would have given them independence in most of the territories in 2000, 2001 and 2008 and their refusal to even restart negotiations. In the absence of a sea change in Palestinian political culture that would allow them to live in peace alongside a Jewish state, peace is impossible.
What Israel must and can do is what it has been doing for 45 years: waiting for the Arabs to come to their senses and give up a notion of Palestinian nationalism that is rooted in negation of Zionism.
- Why the Six-Day War Still Matters - Dore Gold
Forty-five years ago this week, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) liberated the Old City of Jerusalem and re-united Israel's capital. On the eve of the Six-Day War, most of the brigades of the Jordanian Army were deployed right next to the Green Line and encircled Jerusalem on three sides. Moreover, an Iraqi expeditionary force was poised to join them across the Jordan River. When Jordanian artillery opened fire, nearly 6,000 artillery shells fell on Jewish neighborhoods in the western side of Jerusalem, leaving 1,000 Israelis wounded.
When the rights of the parties that claimed Jerusalem arose after the Six-Day War, it became necessary to look into the circumstances of how each came to possess the city. Jordan's capture of Jerusalem in 1948, which resulted from what had been described at the time by the UN Secretary-General, Trygve Lie, as the first case of "armed aggression" since the Second World War, stood in contrast to how Israel entered the eastern portions Jerusalem in 1967, in what was plainly a war of self-defense.
The great American legal scholar, Stephen Schwebel (who would become the President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague), basing himself on the events of the Six-Day War,
concluded that Israel's claim to "the whole of Jerusalem" was stronger than that of Jordan. His analysis was echoed at the time by contemporaries like the British expert on international law, Elihu Lauterpacht, and the Australian, Julius Stone.
Given the total failure of the UN in 1948 to dispatch forces to protect Jerusalem, the internationalization clauses in the Partition Plan were no longer viable either.
In 1994, during the Clinton administration, U.S. ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright explained an American veto in the Security Council by saying, "We are today voting against a resolution precisely because it implies that Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory." (Israel Hayom)
- Six Days of War - Michael Oren
A day-by-day synopsis of the Six-Day War:
On the Eve of the Six-Day War - Nasser in 1967: "Our basic goal is the destruction of Israel."
Day One - "The Egyptian air force has ceased to exist."
Day Two - Egypt orders a wholesale retreat.
Day Three - "The Temple Mount is in our hands." (Jewish Ideas Daily)
Existential Questions Facing the Muslim World - Harold Rhode (Gatestone Institute)
Many parts of the world, such as Korea, China, and India - basically medieval kingdoms sixty years ago - are now among the pacesetters of the modern world. The Muslim world, however, often better off than these countries just half a century ago, has remained as it was, or has even, in many instances, deteriorated.
This inertia in the Islamic world seems to stem not from any genetic limitations, or even religious ones, but purely from Islamic culture.
- Western culture is predicated on questioning: inquiring of authorities how they came to the conclusions they reached. Although in the Shiite world questioning occurs among religious authorities and the educated elite, in the Sunni world, for centuries, asking questions of those more learned or in positions of authority has been unacceptable.
- In much of the Muslim world, people are often seen not as individuals but as members of particular families, clans, tribes, ethnic groups, or religions. A problem between two people can become a problem between two families. What an individual might think personally becomes irrelevant, fostering a mindset that obstructs the analytic thinking that defines the modern world.
- The Arabic word ijtihad means using one's intellectual and reasoning capabilities to determine answers. Today's Islamic culture seems not to encourage this ability. For about a thousand years, Muslims have been asked to accept what they learn from their authority figures. The word "Islam," itself, means "submission." People are educated to memorize, not criticize.
- In Western culture, making a peace boils down to putting the past behind one, letting bygones be bygones, and moving on from there. But in the Arabic, Turkish, and Persian cultures, such a concept does not exist. If bygones can never be bygones, conflicts can never be resolved. In these Muslim lands, when one side is stronger, it attempts to subdue its ancient enemies. The culture does not permit Muslims to put the past behind them: the Internet, for example, is filled with discussions among Muslims about how they must and will reconquer Spain, which they lost to the West 520 years ago.
The writer joined the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1982 as an advisor on Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. From 1994 until 2010 he served in the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment.
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